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Ritchie ignored call for extension to Community funding - Raymond McCartney

30 May, 2008

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said that he is disappointed that DSD Minister Margaret Ritchie ignored his calls for an extension to support for community groups under threat of closure due to her Department's decision to end funding.

Mr McCartney said,

"During questions to the Minister in the Assembly on Tuesday 27th, I called on Margaret Ritchie to extend funding to March 2009 to groups under threat of closure so that they would have an opportunity to explore other avenues of funding.

"However the Minister chose to totally ignore my request and attempted to blame everyone for the crisis apart from her self. I am also disappointed that the SDLP Foyle MLA's also failed to offer support for my request and also attempted to shift responsibility away from their Minister and on to everyone else.

"It is important that the Minister extends this funding to at least March 2009 to allow sufficient time for dialogue between the individual groups, the community and the lead Departments to find a strategic plan for the way forward. I would therefore, even at this late hour, urge the Foyle SDLP MLA's to publicly support my request for the Minister to make a positive decision on this issue and to make an announcement as soon as possible."

Raymond McCartney's Derry City Council colleague, Lynn Fleming added:

"I find the conflict between the lack of support by SDLP MLA's for Raymond McCartney's proposal in the Assembly for a nine month extension to funding and Councillor Helen Quigley's Council proposal for a twelve month extension unbelievable.

"I would have thought it normal party protocol that the Party at local level and Assembly would adopt the same position on such a crucial issue. But obviously Mark Durkan is so detached from local issues that he doesn't even bother to check with his party's Derry Councillors to inform himself of the depth of feelings locally on this issue. The SDLP needs to let the people of Derry know unambiguously whether they support the extension or not. They can't have it both ways." ENDS

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